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June 23, 2013
• Estádio Governador Plácido Aderaldo Castelo, Fortaleza, Ceará
Referee: J. Aguilar
• Attendance: 51263
Jordi Alba 3', 88'
Fernando Torres 62'
Spain return to action on Thursday evening when they take on Cesare Prandelli's Italy in Fortaleza. Thanks for joining me, Max Bentley, on this Goal.com live commentary. Make sure to check out the match report, player ratings and reaction. Until next time, goodbye!
So Nigeria head home but their fans can take heart from their nation's performance in the tournament. With a year to prepare, they could prove a testing opponent for many in the World Cup next summer.
FULL TIME: NIGERIA 0-3 SPAIN. A double from Jordi Alba and a header from Fernando Torres ensure that Vicente del Bosque's side maintain their 100% record and set up a semi-final clash with Italy, in a repeat of the Euro 2012 final. Stephen Keshi's side produced a spirited performance but they were ultimately punished for their profligacy in front of goal. On this form, Spain look set to win their first Confederations Cup and many people will be backing them to retain the World Cup next year.
90' + 1'
It's a late surge from Spain here but Torres' whipped cross just fails to pick out Villa at the back post. It looks like they will have to settle for just the three this time.
Spain nearly claim a fourth late on when Alba picks out Villa inside the box. El Guaje looks to place the ball in the far corner but Enyeama reads it excellently and makes a smart stop.
3-0 SPAIN! After Nigeria's corner fails to beat the first man, Villa produces a glorious pass to find the run of Alba, who had broken the offside trap, and the Barcelona man feints past Enyeama before coolly slotting home. The confidence and composure of a striker!
Nigeria win a late corner when Ogu's shot is deflected behind. Spain have looked vulnerable from corners. Can the Super Eagles take advantage?
David Silva lays the ball back to the edge of the box for fellow substitute David Villa but the Barcelona man cannot keep his effort down and watches it rise high over the crossbar.
Eric Gomez: "After Torres' second goal, Castelao has gone back to supporting their local sides, Fortaleza and Ceara. Rival chants make their way through the stadium, as the match has lost some of its luster. A strong Nigerian attack could have made things more interesting in the final minutes, but sub Gambo Muhammad lacked the necessary calm to put his shot away."
David Villa looks to impress in the closing stages and he races to the byline to cut the ball back for Torres, only to see Enyeama rush off his line to clear upfield.
Credit to Nigeria as they continue to pour forward in search of a consolation. Musa cuts inside Arbeloa down the left but there is not enough bend on his shot and it goes wide of the far post.
Mikel powers through the midfield again, skipping past several challenges, but his long-range shot flashes well wide of Valdes' left-hand post.
John Obi Mikel attempts a difficult ball over the Spain defence for Ideye but it is slightly overhit and Valdes is allowed to collect. Somehow the Barcelona shotstopper is going to come out of this with a clean sheet.
Ahmed Musa has been really positive for Nigeria this evening and has caused several of the Spanish defenders to trip over their feet with his mazy dribbling. All his performance needs is a goal.
Andres Iniesta has been Spain's stand-out performer and he produces dazzling footwork to skip past Mikel before picking out Silva. The Manchester City midfielder's shot is well blocked by Egwuekwe and Torres cannot turn in the rebound.
Final change for La Furia Roja as Pedro is replaced by record all-time goalscorer David Villa.
WHAT A MISS FROM GAMBO! Spain's goal has led a charmed life at times and it does so once again as Gambo inexplicably strikes the ball the wrong side of the post after being picked out excellently by Musa. That would have been some start to his international career!
John Obi Mikel is really enjoying playing in this advanced role and he glides past two players before being hauled to the ground by Busquets. Chelsea fans will be wondering what has happened to their midfield man.
Nigeria make their final change and it's an international debut for Mohammed Gambo as he replaces Joseph Akpala.
Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Spain are irresistible in possession at the moment and they nearly score another brilliant team goal but Pedro's well-struck effort is well blocked by Oboabona.
Nigeria have struggled to match their performance of the first half and they are left frustrated once again as Echiejile is adjudged offside as he looks to race through on goal to meet Mikel's slide pass.
Torres is in the thick of the action at the moment and he goes close again when his backward header glances over Enyeama's crossbar.
Andres Iniesta is beginning to pull the strings in midfield and he produces a sublime pass to send Torres through on goal but the Chelsea striker is denied a second as Oboabona tracks back wonderfully to deflect his shot over the bar.
Eric Gomez: "Fernando Torres is clearly regaining his stroke. Just a few minutes after coming on for Roberto Soldado, the Chelsea man displays his increased confidence with a diving header that batters a fantastic Enyeama for the game's second goal. It would appear that Nigeria missed out on their chance to make this a tighter affair."
John Ogochukwu Ogu
With their Confederations Cup campaign coming to an end, Stephen Keshi decides to make a second change with John Ogu replacing Sunday Mba.
2-0 SPAIN! He's only been on the field two minutes but Fernando Torres makes an instant impact, powering a header home from Pedro's precise cross. Brilliant finish from the Chelsea striker - his fifth goal of the competition.
Vicente del Bosque opts to make a second change replacing Roberto Soldado with Fernando Torres. The Valencia striker has failed to make a lasting impression it seems.
There's a rareity. David Silva produces a precise through pass to find the run of Pedro, but the Barcelona winger, who has enjoyed a fine game so far, is let down by his first touch and Enyeama races off his line to claim.
Spain have suddenly sprung to life and Pedro cuts inside to lay the ball off to Xavi on the edge of the box, and the 33-year-old watches his bending effort comfortably saved by Enyeama.
Pedro produces a deft backheel flick to release the tireless Alba down the left but the Barcelona left-back cannot pick out a red shirt with his cross into the box.
Spain are showing no desperate urge to score a second as they continue to pass the ball around patiently. Fernando Torres readies himself on the touchline.
Cesc Fabregas appears to have picked up a slight knock and he is replaced by David Silva, who scored twice in the 10-0 win over Tahiti.
XAVI GOES CLOSE! Spain win a free kick just outside the box and the Barcelona maestro steps up to take it but his curling effort nestles onto the roof of the net.
Eric Gomez: "Spain has certainly seemed to have gotten a dressing down from Vicente del Bosque at half-time, as they came out with the firm intention of not letting Nigeria have a sniff at the ball. It works for a few moments, but the Super Eagles have proven indomitable so far and create a chance that almost bring them level. The crowd erupts with a thunderous "Nigeria! Nigeria!" at the effort."
HOW DID NIGERIA NOT SCORE THERE? Ahmed Musa storms down the right wing before delivering a fantastic cross into the middle which somehow evades the onrushing Akpala before Ideye cannot get the ball under control at the back post. Let-off for Spain.
RARE SIGHT: INIESTA GIVES THE BALL AWAY! Are my eyes deceiving me?
Not quite the same lightning tempo as the start of the first half as Spain look to build up the possession stats. I'm not sure Nigeria have touched the ball yet.
The teams reemerge from the tunnels and Spain get the game back underway. Can Nigeria fight back in the second half?
How impressed have you been with Nigeria's first half display? Can they find a route back into the match or will Spain prove to be more clinical in the second period? Let me know your views on the match via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
HALF TIME: NIGERIA 0-1 SPAIN. It seemed Vicente del Bosque's side would dominate after they took the lead after three minutes courtesy of Jordi Alba's jinking run and finish but the Super Eagles have responded excellently, causing the World Champions problems at the back. Cesc Fabregas nearly doubled Spain's lead when he saw his effort cannon back off the post and Roberto Soldado has been culpable of missing two presentable opportunities but it has not been the expected one-way traffic with Victor Valdes called upon more than he would have liked to preserve his side's clean sheet. Let's hope for more of the same in the second half.
Eric Gomez: "Half time at Castelao. Applause for both sets of players as they cast off into the dressing room after an intense, but uneven first half. Keshi's side have a bit more to do, as they need to win in order to force Uruguay into a barrage of goals against Tahiti."
45' + 1'
Spain nearly double their lead on the stroke of half time. Xavi delivers a peach of a free kick into the box but Ramos' header is straight at Enyeama.
Eric Gomez: "Just as the match had apparently cooled down, Nigeria is hit with a stroke of pure luck as Spain threatened to make it 2-0. After a dazzling spell of possession, La Roja attackers find Fabregas with a cutting run. The Barcelona man shoots it right at the post and a beaten Enyeama finds himself with the carom just a moment later. The Fortaleza crowd, which had dropped a few decibels in intensity, is now wide awake once more, and back in their role as unofficial Nigeria backer."
Andres Iniesta capitalises on a mix-up in defence between Oboabona and Egwuekwe but his ambitious shot from near the half-way line runs out for a goal kick near the corner flag. Not one of his finer efforts.
IT SHOULD BE 1-1. Nigeria attack straight down the other end and Mba delivers an inviting low cross into the middle which Ideye miskicks with the goal gaping.
FABREGAS HITS THE POST! That would have been some goal. Having passed the Nigerians all over the pitch, Soldado produces a glorious low cross to pick out Fabregas in the middle and the Barcelona man watches his first-time shot crash off the post and into the grateful hands of Enyeama.
Spain decide to hold onto the ball in an attempt to stop the Nigerian flow. I've lost count of how many passes now.
You would think John Obi Mikel was Spanish with some of the through balls he is playing! This time he lofts a clever pass over the back four for Musa but the CSKA Moscow attacker is adjudged offside.
Nigeria are causing Spain real problems here and Mikel releases Musa down the left wing but his low cross into the box is well scampered clear by Alba, who backtracked excellently to prevent Ideye turning the ball home at the far post.
Pedro produces an eye-of-the-needle pass to pick out the run of Soldado and the Valencia striker again disappoints in front of goal, lashing the ball straight at Enyeama's midriff. Torres and Villa look on from the bench.
Eric Gomez: "Spain were not expecting this. The crafty Nigerian side has come out with an absolute disregard for the current World Champs and have wrested possession away from La Roja in the first half. Despite the success of a threaded cross about 50 yards away that found Soldado before Enyeama parried away, the Spaniards are being forced out of their comfort zone by the African monarchs. They've now found a new, unexpected enemy: the crowd, who have now completely fallen for the Super Eagles."
The stats show that Nigeria have had more chances and Musa delivers a wonderful cross into the box for Akpala, who forces Valdes into another smart stop. The crowd grow louder in anticipation of a Nigeria goal.
Unfortunately for Nigeria fans, things have just gone from bad to worse as Uruguay have now stormed into a 3-0 lead over Tahiti.
IT SHOULD BE 2-0! Enyeama is finally called into action, saving well from Soldado who had broken the offside trap to latch onto Ramos' raking long pass. With his goalscoring record, the Valencia forward should have scored from there.
Stephen Keshi will be delighted with the way his team have responded since going behind. They are looking dangerous whenever they attack and Enyeama has not had a save to make in the last ten minutes or so.
John Obi Mikel floats a teasing cross into the box, looking for the head of Oboabona, but Valdes races off his line quickly to make an important punch. There is a stoppage in play here as Pique receives treatment.
MBA GOES CLOSE! The Warri Wolves midfielder scored the winning goal in the African Cup of Nations final and he nearly scores another special strike, only to see Valdes dive low to his left to turn his curling effort around the past, after he had been well picked out by Ideye.
Eric Gomez: "Supporters have taken a strange turn in Fortaleza, as they've now started to appreciate Nigeria's all-out attacking tactics and have even begun to chant "ole" when the African champs string together a few passes. During this particular attack, a section of the crowd even started chanting "Nigeria! Nigeria!" in evidence of their satisfaction with the moxie displayed by the Super Eagles."
Sergio Ramos steps up to strike a freekick from distance but the Real Madrid defender cannot generate enough height on his effort and hits the ball straight into the wall.
Nigeria clearly fancy themselves for a goal here and Akpala collects Musa's pass on the edge of the box but his shot on the turn is comfortably collected by Valdes.
Spain immediately counterattack down the other end and they have a two-on-two situation. Pedro has Soldado to his right but opts to go alone, bursting past Oboabona who somehow manages to race back and prevent the Barcelona man from getting his shot away.
Nigeria have a great chance when Mikel's clever dinked pass finds Akpala on the edge of the box. The Werder Bremen striker's shot is well blocked and Sergio Ramos comes to the rescue to prevent Mikel from smashing home the rebound.
Concerns for Nigeria here as Chelsea youngster Kenneth Omeruo is struggling. Stephen Keshi readies a substitute on the touchline.
Nearly another goal made in Barcelona. Cesc Fabregas has made a bright start here and the former-Arsenal man exchanges wonderful passes with Iniesta before his toe-poked effort is turned behind by Enyeama for a corner.
It's all Spain and the Nigerians are really struggling to keep up with the red shirts at the moment. Stephen Keshi's side just need to weather the storm here.
Eric Gomez: "Spain's early goal has highlighted a slow start for Nigeria, who gave up blistering runs to Andres Iniesta as well as Jordi Alba, who put this one away for his third international goal with La Roja. It's eight Barcelona players on the pitch for the defending World Champions, and they're certainly playing like the blaugranas at the moment, with plenty of possession and smart offensive play to begin what they hope is another win in the group stage."
That was just the start that Nigeria feared and to make matters worse, Uruguay have taken an early lead themselves against Tahiti.
JORDI ALBA PUTS SPAIN IN THE LEAD! It's a wonderful team goal from Spain with all the usual characters playing some part. Iniesta releases his Barcelona teammate on the left side of the box and the left-back jinks past three Nigerian defenders before coolly slotting past Enyeama. Scintillating football from Spain.
Nigeria are not here to defend however and the Super Eagles attack down the other end with Brown Ideye who tries to catch Victor Valdes out at his near post. The Barcelona goalkeeper pushes the ball around the post for the first corner of the game.
Spain almost one-nil ahead in the opening minute. Andres Iniesta collects the ball on the left corner of the box, selling a Nigeria defender with a nutmeg before forcing Enyeama into a smart save down low to his left.
Eric Gomez: "Fantastic roar of anticipation from the Fortaleza crowd as the game is close to beginning. As Victor Valdes approaches the goal he will be defending in the first half, that side of the stadium goes absolutely bananas over the Barcelona netminder's presence. Salvadorian ref Joel Aguilar runs through the last bits of preparation, and a loud chant pierces through the stadium as he sounds his opening whistle."
The Spanish anthem follows as the camera pans across their star-studded lineup. Captains Xavi and Vincent Enyeama begin the respective handshakes between the sides.
The teams emerge from the tunnel and the Nigerian national anthem starts the proceedings. Good support for the African nation here with plenty of green shirts waving the national flag in the stands.
Nigeria have not beaten European opposition since a 1-0 friendly win against France in November 2009. Joseph Akpala got the winner that day, can he impress this evening? Kickoff is five minutes away.
And just to show you how difficult Nigeria's task is, here is the Spanish substitutes bench: Casillas, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Azpilicueta, Villa, Torres, Mata, Monreal, Cazorla, Silva, Jesus Navas, Reina. Surely one of the strongest, if not the strongest, squads of 23 in FIFA tournament history.
Having rested the majority of his first-team for the 10-0 thumping of Tahiti, Vicente del Bosque names the same side which started the opening match against Uruguay with the exception of Iker Casillas, who is replaced by Victor Valdes in goal. Despite scoring seven goals between them against the Pacific Islanders, Fernando Torres and David Villa both drop to the bench with Roberto Soldado occupying the lone striking berth.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi makes two changes to the side which lost 2-1 to Uruguay. Their top goalscorer in the tournament, Nnamdi Oduamadi, is sidelined through injury, giving a chance for Joseph Akpala to shine up front. John Ogu is the other player who makes way, with Enugu Rangers midfielder Sunday Mba being recalled to the starting eleven.
Goal correspondent Eric Gomez has already taken his seat inside the Estadio Castelao: "Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and... Iker Casillas have received the biggest ovations upon being named by the stadium's PA. On the Nigerian side, John Obi Mikel has received the most applause. Both teams have now retired back to their respective dressing rooms in order for the final team talks in front of what will surely be a riveting group stage finale."
Spain (4-3-3): Valdes; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pique, Jordi Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Iniesta, Soldado, Pedro.
Nigeria (4-3-3): Enyeama; Ambrose, Omeruo, Oboabona, Echiejile; Mikel, Ogude, Mba; Ideye, Akpala, Musa.
Without any further ado, let's bring you up-to-speed with this evening's lineups, starting with the Super Eagles...
However, Nigerian fans will cast their memory back to the 1998 World Cup when their nation pulled off one of the greatest international upsets of all-time when they defeated Spain 3-2. I can still picture that Sunday Oliseh winner even today! Can the class of 2013 capture the spirit of that special side to claim a famous victory? Bringing you all the action from Fortaleza, my name is Max Bentley. Feel free to share your thoughts and predictions on the match with me via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
Nigeria's 2-1 defeat to Uruguay on Thursday all but signalled the end of the Super Eagles' Confederations Cup dream and they know that they will now need a miracle to advance to the semi-finals. In order to achieve a place in the last four, Stephen Keshi's side must better the result of Uruguay, who face Tahiti this evening, and they could not face a sterner test as they come up against a Spain side who are unbeaten in their last 24 matches.
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